RACP boss resigns as college goes into the red

medical education

By Geir O'Rourke

8 Apr 2024

The RACP has announced the departure of its CEO and a major spending program that will see it plunge into the red for at least the next four years, in its most significant shake-up in recent memory.

It is unclear what, if any, connection exists between the surprise announcements – posted within quick succession on the RACP website late last week – although college president Dr Jacqueline Small has declared the reform package is “unaffected” by the hunt for a new boss.

The college’s post offers few particulars, noting only that current CEO Lee Whitney resigned “after forming the view that the agenda of the RACP would be best addressed by a CEO with a specific focus on governance reform”.

Lee Whitney

Mr Whitney, a former Chartered Accountants ANZ executive who joined the college last November, will serve in the role until Friday, 19 April.

“The president and the board has thanked Mr Whitney for coming to his decision quickly and for his actions in progressing several major projects particularly those required to transform technology platforms and digital member engagement,” it goes on to say (link here).

“The Board has commenced actions to seek an interim CEO. Mr Whitney will work closely with the board and senior team over the coming weeks to minimise disruption to the college and its current transformation processes.”

“The RACP Board reiterates its commitment to improvements in training and education, governance, and member experience. Health equity, workforce and wellbeing are key college focus areas.”

RACP unveils major spending program

Dr Jacqueline Small’s president’s message on Friday had more details about the planned transformation, which would see significant upgrades to the college’s IT and training infrastructure.

Major projects underway this year include:

  • Renewal of the advanced training curriculum to meet AMC requirements
  • A new training management platform
  • A new member relationship management platform aimed at delivering a more personalised, proactive, supportive service offering to members based on more sophisticated data collection and personalisation

Coupled with broader program of technology investment, the overhaul is expected to cost millions of dollars, although the college said it had not “projected an all-up cost”.

“Trying to do so over a five-year timespan would not provide an accurate picture, as costs and the macro-economic environment can change significantly during that period,” it said in an FAQ.

“Instead, we will project the cost of each project and seek board approval to proceed on a project-by-project basis, while anticipating a return to surplus in 2028.”

Dr Small said the investment was long overdue, adding the college had learned from its failed attempt to developed a bespoke IT platform, known as TRACC, which had now been terminated.

Instead, the RACP would be adapting existing Microsoft products and bringing in KPMG to manage the transition, she said.

“Our college is financially strong. We have minimal short-term debt, no long-term debt and $50 million in cash and liquid assets,” she said.

“But that strong financial position has been accrued at the expense of under-investment in technology over many years. And in the past, our track record in executing technology projects has not been good.”

“However, we need to apply the lessons learnt from those experiences and can’t delay significant investment any further.”

While the investment was expected to see the RACP report major deficits for the next four years, it was anticipated that a surplus would be returned in 2028.

“These projects will be funded from the college’s $50 million in retained earnings, essentially money that we have in the bank,” she said.

“And so, while we will report an accounting loss, we do not anticipate having to borrow or increase fees beyond typical inflationary increases to fund these investments.”

“They will effectively be funded by money that we have saved for this very sort of purpose. Again, to repeat, the college has a strong balance sheet to fund these investments.”

“This is a prudent and carefully thought through investment strategy. It ensures we can provide support for our AMC-mandated new curricula, and the types of services you are demanding as members.”

Already a member?

Login to keep reading.

Email me a login link